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What I tend to do is to have the structure of the Excel file in a custom dictionary (like a text input tool with two columns, ORIGINAL NAME FIELDS and DESIRED NAME FIELDS), and use a dynamic rename tool at the very beginning of the workflow, to rename the columns accordingly.
The "renaming Dictionary" may be something like this:
The Excel file (or any input file) may be something like this:
And the Workflow (And the Dynamic Rename Tool) is configured like you see here:
The results will look like:
This assures me that I'll carry all the workflow with the desired field names, and if something changes, I only have to change the custom dictionary.
Add this @ the beggining of your actual workflow, and rename the [NEW COLUMN NAME] to the OLD one, so you don´t have to change anything of the workflow. You'll be using the old name through all the workflow. In case you need to rename the output to the [NEW COLUMN NAME], just rename it back at the end of your workflow.
Just add Annotations and Comments where you do this steps, to keep you and any other persons that uses the workflow aware about this.